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Timeline of EPRDF's "free and fair" elections

 


Timeline: sham elections and consequences

In 2005, the EPRDF regime declared it was time for a democratic election in Ethiopia. The people of Ethiopia gave the regime the benefit of the doubt and embraced the opportunity with open arms. What followed didn’t necessarily bring about the much-desired political change – for many, it changed the way they saw the regime. This is a well-documented timeline of events – events that took place during the 2005 sham election and in its aftermath.

 

 


 

23 January 2005: Meles Zenawi appears on the BBC's Talking Point programme answering questions from people around the world. An Ethiopian from Israel asks: "You have led your party for at least 15 years and you have been leading Ethiopia for 14 years, when will you give up your place for the new generation?" The late leader of the EPRDF regime answers: "The beauty of democratic system is that these decisions are not made by me or any incumbent leader in any country. Those decisions are made by the people. Whenever the people want to hire a new prime minister, they do so, that's why we have elections."


30 March 2005: The Ethiopian regime expels six United States election observers from the country giving them 48 hours to leave on the grounds that "they did not have a permit to work and were interfering in local matters". They were there to monitor the elections due in six weeks time.


26 April 2005: Ethiopian opposition leaders accuse the ruling party of killing and intimidating their supporters ahead of parliamentary polls on 15 May. In this very first accusation since the beginning of the election campaign, the opposition says at least two opposition supporters had been shot and more than 40 jailed and tortured in March alone.


5 May 2005: In a nationally televised address to the people of Ethiopia , the Meles Zenawi accuses the opposition parties of fomenting ethnic hatred and compares their election campaigns to those used in the Rwandan genocide.


1May 2005: More than 300 international election observers arrive in Ethiopia. The European Union, the US-based Carter Centre and the African Union get ready to observe the election process.


8 May 2005: In an unprecedented display of support for the opposition parties, hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets of the Ethiopian capital ahead of the general elections in a week time.


9 May 2005: European Union election observers send a letter to Ethiopia 's ruling party voicing their concerns about the killings and intimidations of opposition members and supporters. Chief EU election observer Ana Gomez told the AFP news agency that she was concerned about beatings of opposition officials and disruption of their rallies. She is quoted as saying: "I myself spoke with people who have been beaten".


10 May 2005: Human Rights Watch issues a report on the situation in Ethiopia. The report accuses the government of systematic political repression in the Oromia region and says that elections in that region will be a 'hollow exercise'. The executive director of this international human right's organization - Peter Takirambudde – says in a statement that "the Ethiopian government claims that the elections demonstrate its commitment to democratic principles. But in the run-up to the elections, the authorities have intensified the repression they have used to keep themselves in power for 13 years."


15 May 2005: Election Day – 26 million Ethiopians cast ballots at 35,000 polling stations across the country.


16 May 2005: Meles Zenawi tells Ethiopians that his "government has decided to bring all the security forces, the police and the local militias, under one command accountable to the prime minister". And declares that any public meetings and demonstrations are outlawed for a month. This ban on demonstrations and public meetings was later extended further.


17 May 2005: Provisional results suggest a landslide victory for the opposition CUD party in the capital; it won all 23 seats in the capital, Addis Ababa, with several government ministers losing their seats in Parliament.


17 May 2005: Ethiopia 's ruling party says it has won the country's general election before the counting of the votes was finalized.


17 May 2005: The chief European Union election observer, Ana Gomes, criticizes the ruling party for announcing results before counting is over. She says "this is improper and it is particularly improper from the ruling party to do it at this stage."


20 May 2005: The opposition parties lodge complaints about massive electoral fraud and vote rigging committed by the ruling party in several rural and regional areas. The two main opposition parties say they won't accept election results unless the Electoral Board investigates their 300 complaints of allegations of vote rigging and fraud in 547 constituencies.


25 May 2005: European Union election observers express regret at the slow pace of vote counting. The EU observers also accuse the state media of bias in its coverage of statements by political parties. They said "the government's actions are seriously undermining the election process."


28 May 2005: The National Electoral Board releases provisional results saying Ethiopia 's ruling party has won an overall majority. At the same time, the board says that it is investigating the oppositions' claims of fraud in 139 constituencies.


3 June 2005: The National Electoral Board says it won't release final results on 8 June as planned and said it would release them in another month's time. And opposition parties vow to stage mass protests if the provisional results are validated.


6 June 2005: Addis Ababa University students protest accusing the ruling EPRDF party of fraud. Baton-wielding police storm the two main university campuses killing at least two and arresting hundreds. Police were seen beating students with batons and rifle butts. A young student by the name of Shibire Desalegn, is believed to be the first victim of the regime's atrocious killings following the election crisis.

8 Jun 2005: EPRDF's heavily armed forces deployed in the streets of Addis Ababa massacre at least 42 innocent civilians for taking part in a demonstration demanding the respect of the outcome of the elections in the country. Most of the dead had gun shots to the head and hundreds were wounded while thousands were abducted and sent to remote military prison camps.


8 June 2005: Business owners, taxi and and mini-bus drivers take strike action to protest over the ruling party's alleged massive election fraud and its fierce violations of human rights. The streets of Addis Ababa are seen under the intimidating control of the EPRDF's armed forces. The government places opposition leaders under house arrest.


9 June 2005: Amnesty International issues a press release saying: "Over 1,500 students and other demonstrators are at risk of torture [and] further arrests are reportedly continuing in Addis Ababa and in other towns where student demonstrations took place". The organization condemnes the excessive use of force by the police, who it says "used live ammunition against peaceful protestors". "The excessive and indiscriminate use of force is in contravention of international human rights standards," said Kolawole Olaniyan, Amnesty International's Africa Programme Director.


11 June 2005: In an interview with the Reuters news agency, Meles Zenawi describes the events of the previous few days as "an indication that our democracy is maturing."


11 June 2005: The EPRDF regime strips of the credentials of Voice of America and Deutsche Welle Radio reporters in Addis Ababa and says they cannot do reports on the situation. Journalists who went to opposition leaders' homes were beaten by police with fists and clubs and had their cameras confiscated.


11 June 2005: Thousands of Ethiopians from around America gather in Washington carrying placards saying: 'Stop the massacre in Ethiopia!', 'Side with the Ethiopian people not with the dictator!', 'President Bush, Secretary Rice, Ethiopians deserve justice & democracy!'. Thousands in Washington and London also hold candlelight vigils to remember and pray for those who were murdered in the streets of Addis Ababa on 8 June.


11 June 2005: An opposition MP-elect by the name of Tesfaye Adane shot and killed by police near his home in Arsi Negele - south of the capital.


12 June 2005: Ethiopian expatriates across the world mobilize to send a message of peace and to demand the respect of law and human rights in their homeland as well as to show solidarity with the people in Ethiopia. Ethiopian communities virtually from every major city in Europe, America and Australia as well as Ethiopians in South Africa and Israel have been taking part in demonstrations in the wake of the mass killings, arbitrary detention, ban on demonstrations, and fierce intimidation by the EPRDF regime.


13 June 2005: International media reports reveal more than 3,000 people have been arrested in Ethiopia in the preceding few weeks alone.


13 June 2005: The United States government issues a statement on the situation in Ethiopia. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack says the following in a statement: "We urge the government to respect the rule of law, international principles of human rights, and due process with regard to those arrested or detained."


14 June 2005: The Ethiopian Human Rights Council issues an urgent appeal. It says: "[EHRCO] calls on individuals, national and foreign non-governmental organizations as well as foreign governments and inter-governmental organizations who stand for the respect of human rights, the prevalence of the rule of law and the flourishing of democracy, to condemn the acts of imprisonment, beatings, repression and killings being committed by the Ethiopian government, and to exert pressure to bring it to the right direction."


15 June 2005: UK Development Minister Hilary Benn announces that his government has suspended a $36 million aid increase to Ethiopia after the government killed protestors in the streets of the capital, Addis Ababa.


19 June 2005: The Ethiopian Human Rights Council says six of its human rights activists have been taken by uniformed police from their offices and residences and there whereabouts are not known.


22 June: The National Electoral Board drops more than half of the investigations into alleged election fraud without explanation.


21 June 2005: Eight army pilots training in the former Soviet republic of Belarus ask for political asylum saying that they could be used by the EPRDF regime to carryout atrocious criminal acts against opposition supporters.


2 July 2005: The EPRDF dominated Parliament passes bills federalizing the responsibilities of numerous institutions that thus far have been under the authority of the Addis Ababa City Government. The ruling EPRDF party makes this move following the opposition's landslide victory in Addis Ababa thereby depriving them of political, economic and administrative decision making powers in particular areas when they start governing the city as of October 2005. The institutions that so far have been under the authority of the Addis Ababa City Government and now federalized are: the Addis Ababa Road Transport Authority; the Addis Ababa Quarantine Service Department; the Authentication and Registration Bureau; the bureau registering local and international NGOs operating in Addis Ababa ; and the Public Rally Permit Office.


4 July 2005: In an interview with Stephen Sackur on the BBC's HARDTALK programme, the Meles Zenawi refuses to apologize to the Ethiopian people for the massacre his army committed under his command. Instead, he said "all international observers without exception said that the election process in Ethiopia was free, fair and transparent by any standard." Stephen Sackur interrupted to set the record straight by saying: "No, no they didn't Prime Minster, with respect, they didn't say that… [the Carter Centre]…said and I quote 'that there was evidence ballot boxes had been removed improperly or improperly secured, party agents were excluded from the count, they also confirmed cases of intimidation and harassment and said national election officials were slow to respond or failed to provide any information."


5 July 2005: Hailu Shawel, the leader of Ethiopia 's main opposition party – the CUD – appears on the BBC's HARDTALK programme. Stephen Sackur asks: "Are you optimistic about Ethiopia's future, till the last year people wanted to believe that this country was dragging itself out of extreme poverty, now the outlook looks much bleaker, doesn't it?" And Hailu Shawel replies: "Well, it is easy to solve, let the government take its guns away and we have a beautiful future; I can tell you."


August 2005: A hit song emerges – in Amharic – saying the Rwandan genocide will never happen in Ethiopia (as a direct reply to the Prime Minster's bleak prediction) urging the people of Ethiopia to unite against the atrocious regime and pleading with the military not to engage in harming its civilian brothers and sisters to keep the regime in power.


9 August 2005: After a number of postponements the National Electoral Board says the ruling party has won the election.


11 August 2005: Ethiopia 's main opposition party calls for a formation of provisional government of national unity. In a news conference the Coalition for Unity and Democracy (CUD) requests the ruling party to form a "caretaker" government of national unity that would last no longer than one year. The Party says that the interim government would end the ruling EPRDF party's links with the judiciary, the press and the electoral board, and would prepare for new polls.


20 August 2005: Ethiopia's main opposition party – CUD – elects Dr. Berhanu Nega as Mayor of Addis Ababa. The CUD won a landslide victory in the capital in the 15 May election.


25 August 2005: An Australian television documentary describes the Ethiopian election as "anything but free and fair; in fact, it turned out to be what many cynics have come to expect from African elections: vote-rigging, intimidation and even murder…" It also adds that "Ethiopia 's historic ballot was marred by widespread fraud, political assassination, and the killing of more than 40 unarmed protestors." The DATELINE documentary on the SBS channel describes itself as "a story about a government that promised free elections but took it back when it didn't like the result."


26 August 2005: The European Union's chief election observer in Ethiopia says the elections failed to meet international standards in several key respects. Ana Gomes says 'solid evidence of irregularities presented by the opposition had been dismissed." She concluded that 'the EU Observation Mission regrets [that the election process] did not live up to the international standards and to the aspirations of Ethiopians for democracy."


27 August 2005: The EPRDF government accuses EU observers of contributing to post-election violence.


29 August 2005: The Prime Minster gives an official response to the European Union's report that criticized the election process by saying that the report was 'garbage'. Reuters News Agency has quoted him as saying: 'we shall, in the coming days and weeks, see what we can do to expose the pack of lies and innuendos that characterize the garbage in this report'.


5 September 2005: The National Electoral Board confirms final results from the disputed polls with the EPRDF winning 360 seats and the opposition winning 175.


22 September 2005: The opposition parties call upon the Ethiopian people to hold a peaceful demonstration on the 2 October to express their disapproval of the election results and the widespread human rights violations in the country by the EPRDF regime. The demonstration would be the fist rally since the ruling party was declared winner of the elections.


24 September 2005: The Prime Minster appears on national television to deliver a personal message of warning to the people of Ethiopia against taking part in the 2 October demonstration. He calls the demonstration 'illegal' and says the aim of the demonstration is 'to overthrow the governmentb by an unconstitutional means'.


26 September 2005: EPRDF police arrest at least 43 opposition members in regional areas for allegedly plotting against the government. Hundredes of opposition supporters throughout Ethiopia go missing as the EPRDF intensifies its crackdown on the oppositions ahead of the 2 October rally.


27 September 2005: At the annual bonfire celebration of the Meskel festival residents of Addis Ababa express their disapproval of government officials and the Patriarch who has long been accused by the Christian population and many Clergymen of belonging to the ruling party and having blatant pro-government stances as opposed to simply being a religious leader. The mood of the religious festival turned political when the president arrived at Meskel Square followed by the Patriarch of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church. They were greeted with boos and jeers by the attending crowed and the Patriarch was forced to cut his speech short. Police arrested more than 50 people at the scene.


29 September 2005: The government refuses to issue permit for the 2 October demonstration and forces the opposition parties to cancel it. The two main opposition parties tell the Ethiopian people that the demonstration has been called off on the grounds that they have been denied permit and alternative and peaceful ways of expressing their disapproval would be announced soon.


30 September 2005: The opposition parties ask the Ethiopian people to take strike action for 3 consecutive days from 3 October. A statement from the opposition parties says: ' we call upon our fellow Ethiopians to stay in your homes for three consecutive days ... to express to the ruling party and the government in unequivocal but peaceful, legal terms your legitimate discontent '.


30 September 2005: Amnesty International issues a report on the situation in Ethiopia. The report says: 'hundreds of opposition party officials and members are being held incommunicado without charge in order to stop them attending nationwide demonstrations which had been planned for 2 October. Several of those detained, have reportedly been beaten in detention, and all the detainees are at risk of torture or ill-treatment. There has also been widespread intimidation and harassment of suspected opposition supporters, particularly youths. Amnesty International believes that those arrested may be prisoners of conscience, detained solely on account of their non-violent opinions'.


1 October 2005: Western diplomats in Addis Ababa play a mediating role and the Prime Minster suddenly announces that he is ready to hold direct talks with the opposition parties. In the wake of the PM's readiness to hold talks, the opposition parties call off the general strike. A statement issued by the opposition parties says: ' we are committing ourselves to press for our objectives through a democratic and parliamentary process. We believe this advances the democratic process in a peaceful and constructive manner'.


7 October 2005: The two main opposition parties announce that agreed talks with the government couldn't proceed on the grounds that the government couldn't accept their agenda. Among other things, the oppositions wanted to talk with the government about restructuring the electoral board, recounting the votes from the 299 constituencies in which the electoral board refused to investegate fraud and vote rigging allegations, and also about forming a government of national unity. Even though the Prime Minster agreed – less than a week ago – to hold talks with the oppositions reportedly 'on any issue', his characteristic deceit has come into play, prompting the collapse of the talks before they could even begin.


10 October 2005: Ethiopia 's main opposition party – the CUD – officially boycotts parliament. The CUD says a number of preconditions will have to be met in order for the party to take up its seats in parliament. Among the preconditions, the complete reform of the electoral board, the setting-up of an independent panel to probe into the killings of at least 42 civilian protesters in Addis Ababa on 8 June, the release of detained opposition members, the reopening of CUD's offices in rural and regional areas, the provision of equitable access to the media by opposition parties, and the development of an independent judicial system are the key ones. The second most popular opposition party – the UEDF - however says that 35 of its newly elected MPs will join parliament when it reopens on 11 October.


10 October 2005: Ethiopian parliament re-opens and re-appoints Meles Zenawi as Prime Minster. He has been in power since 1991.


11 October 2005: The EPRDF dominated parliament strips opposition MPs who boycotted parliament of their immunity from prosecution. A total of 334 legislators voted in favor of lifting opposition members' immunity, while 35 voted against and two abstained. Members of the second most popular opposition party – the UEDF – who decided to take up their seats left parliament in protest of the decision.


13 October 2005: In a resolution adopted today, the European Parliament 'calls on the Ethiopian government to end the persecution and intimidation of opposition parties and to release immediately thousands of people who were arrested at an opposition demonstration in June'. The parliament praises the opposition for having called off a demonstration on 2 October that could have led to serious clashes. The European Parliament says it is 'seriously concerned that the political dialogue between the Ethiopian government and the opposition has broken down due to the ruling party's stance [and] it urges all parties to resume the talks immediately and work towards a functioning democracy with the rights of the opposition fully respected.' The parliament also asked its president to write to the speaker of the Ethiopian parliament expressing its strong concern over the bill to strip parliamentary immunity from all elected opposition MPs who did not take their seats.


15 October 2005: In an interview with Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN), the Prime Minster accuses the leader of Ethiopia 's main opposition party of an act of treason. He was quoted as saying 'the chairman of the CUD [opposition Coalition of Unity and Democracy, Hailu Shawel] has on a number of occasions publicly declared his intention, the intention of his party, to remove the government through street action. That is an act of treason in any country and under any language. And treason as far as I know treason is a very serious crime in any country.'


19 October 2005: Police arrest at least 34 members and supporters of Ethiopia 's main opposition party about 250km east of Addis Ababa. The reason given by police for the arrests is that ' they were found with a cache of weapons and were suspected of planning violence'. The state controlled media said 'police found 23 rifles, five pistols, three hand grenades, other firearms and 626 rounds of ammunition'.


19 October 2005: The secretary-general of the Geneva-based Inter-Parliamentary Union, which works to promote representative democracy around the world, criticizes the way the opposition parties are treated in Ethiopia . In an interview with Voice of America Mr. Anders Johnsson said that 'he's surprised by the Ethiopian government's decision to lift immunity from opposition members [and] the move restricts the ability of legislators to debate and formulate national policy on behalf of the electorate'. He also said that 'without the "human right" of parliamentarians to dissent or enjoy freedom of assembly, it is unlikely there will be human rights for average person'.


21 October 2005: The chairman of Ethiopia's leading opposition party - the Coalition for Unity and Democracy (CUD) - accuses the government of killing 6 of its members, arresting 837 opposition members and breaking into and closing 25 branch offices over the preceding three weeks. In a statement, the CUD chairman Hailu Shawul said that 'the burning issue today is the right of the people to resist and protect themselves against government's unconstitutional measures'.


21 October 2005: The chairman of Ethiopia 's leading opposition party - the Coalition for Unity and Democracy (CUD) - urges the people of Ethiopia to prepare for peaceful demonstrations, strikes and stay-at-homes to protest the killing of six members and detention of hundreds of opposition members. He said that the protest actions will be held in the first week of November.


29 October 2005: Ethiopia 's main opposition party – the CUD - urges the people of Ethiopia to take strike actions and stay-at-homes as of 14 November 2005 to protest the results of the recent general elections, the killings and detention of citizens and the relentless violations of human rights in the country.


29 October 2005: Ethiopia 's main opposition party – the CUD – urges the Ethiopian people to boycott products and services owned by the ruling party and its associates and sympathizers to express their disapproval of the government and its relentless violations of human rights in the aftermath of the flawed general elections. The opposition says effective from today, the boycott is part of its peaceful struggle against the regime and the scope and duration of the protest action will depend upon how the government reacts to it. Radio stations, newspapers, media and publishing companies are among the products and services to be boycotted.


31 October 2005: EPRDF Police arrest and revoke the licenses of several taxi divers in the capital Addis Ababa who have been taking part in a demonstration called by the main opposition party.


1 November 2005: EPRDF police massacre scores of Ethiopians in the capital Addis Ababa. Reports on the day say that at least 8 people were shot in the chest and head causing them to die in the streets of Mercato while many others were seriously injured. Some of the dead and injured are said to have been taking part in a demonstration that had been called by the main opposition party.


1 November 2005: EPRDF police arrest the chairman and the deputy of Ethiopia 's main opposition party - the CUD - including Professor Mesfin Wolde Mariam - a prominent human rights activist. Engineer Hailu Shawel, Dr. Berhanu Nega and Professor Mesfin Wolde Mariam's arrest today follows the massacre yesterday of unarmed civilians in Addis Ababa by the EPRDF army.


2 November 2005: A day of continued bloodshed in the Ethiopian capital – Addis Ababa. EPRDF army continues to massacre the people of Ethiopia in the capital Addis Ababa. Reports on the day say that at least 33 people were shot dead and large number of others seriously injured. In addition to the indiscriminate killings of civilians, hundreds, possibly thousands of Ethiopians have been randomly picked up in the capital and arrested in undisclosed locations.


3 November 2005: EPRDF army continues the indiscriminate killings of civilian Ethiopians. Reports on the day suggest that at least 3 more people were shot dead and many others seriously injured on the streets of Addis Ababa. In addition to the indiscriminate killings, hundreds, possibly thousands of more Ethiopians have been randomly picked up in the capital and arrested in undisclosed locations.


3 November 2005: Britain 's foreign ministry urges its citizens against non-essential travel to Ethiopia saying that 'there have been further serious disturbances across the capital, resulting in a number of deaths'. The statement given by the ministry adds 'opposition leaders have been arrested and further violence in Addis and other towns cannot be ruled out. We advise against non-essential travel to Ethiopia until the situation settles'.


4 November 2005: The bloodshed continues in Addis Ababa with 3 more people shot and killed by the EPRDF army who are patrolling the city heavily armed with heavy machine guns and sniper rifles and shooting indiscriminately. Teenagers and mothers are among the dead shot by members of the army in their homes and in front of their loved ones. Businesses and private taxis have been shut and frequent gunshots have been heard all day. Reports by Associated Press suggest that diplomats in Addis Ababa ' had reports of police continuing to round up suspected opposition leaders overnight, perhaps as many as 3,000 people '. The BBC reported that 'arrests continued overnight with truckloads of opposition supporters being taken out of Addis Ababa.'


4 November 2005: Protests spread from the capital to other parts of Ethiopia . Reports say protests erupted in Dessie, Gondar, Bahar Dar, Arba Minch, Awassa and Dire Dawa. 4 people were shot and killed by EPRDF armed forces in Bahar Dar and 11 were wounded. The protesters were calling for an independent investigation into the mass killings in the capital and the release of political prisoners all over the country.


4 November 2005: European Union chief election observer Ana Gomes sends a letter of urgent appeal to EU governments and the Commission to act to end what she calls the 'bloodbath' in Ethiopia. The letter asks European governments to 'stop the killing of Ethiopians who dare to believe that democracy is possible in Ethiopia'. The letter also adds: 'most ironic is that Europe counts in Ethiopia , a country which depends on European aid, the largest recipient in Africa . Europe could definitely make the difference for democracy in Ethiopia ; instead, current European leaders are choosing to fail it. In doing so, they are not just failing Ethiopians. They are also failing Europe.'


4 November 2005: The United States government says 'anybody who might have been arrested in these demonstrations for political reasons should be released immediately.' The message was delivered by department spokesman Sean McCormack on Friday. He said 'the deaths as a result of the actions surrounding these protests are senseless - these are senseless deaths, and they're tragic.' He added: 'violence is not the way forward for either side. The United States calls upon both sides to engage in a peaceful dialogue, to back away from the use of violence [and not] to try to provoke the other side into violence.' The Meles regime is an ally of the Bush administration in the so-called 'war on terror' which explains why the administration is notably reluctant to condemn the massacre in Ethiopia.


5 November 2005: 2 students shot and killed by EPRDF army in Debre Markos - 305 km north of the capital Addis Ababa.


7 November 2005: Ethiopia's main opposition party – the CUD – which has most of its leadership and legislative body detained without trial calls for a week long strike to begin today to protest at the violent killings of large numbers of Ethiopians for the last six days. On this very first day of the latest strike, shops and businesses in Addis Ababa are closed and almost no taxis are running. The EPRDF military armed with heavy machine guns and sniper rifles constantly patrol the city from every direction.


7 - 14 November 2005: This week Ethiopians have witnessed the unthinkable: hundreds of families have lost fathers, mothers, brothers and sisters to the atrociously indiscriminate bullets of the EPRDF regime; across the city of Addis Ababa, heavily armed police have been making late night raids on houses in a massive crackdown on citizens. Young men, some barefoot, being marched through the city to police stations and remote detention locations have became a familiar sight. Citizens have been made to pay as much as 1,500 Birr to collect the corpses of their loved ones from the government; citizens who went to hospitals to recover the bodies of their loved ones have been told that they had to sign a document saying that the opposition party was responsible for the killing and some have been made to sign papers that say their loved ones were shot dead while plotting against their country; thousands of citizens arrested for being sympathizers of the opposition party; scores of opposition leaders arrested on a charge of treason; thousands of citizens held in rugged conditions outside the capital without their families knowing their whereabouts; several print journalists under siege; many reporters viewed as sympathetic to the opposition have been detained; other journalists have gone into hiding, and the army took into custody two journalists' mothers as a pressure tactic. Meanwhile Ethiopian expatriates in the west continue asking their respective governments to put pressure on the regime in Ethiopia to respect human rights and the rule of law.


14 November 2005: A New York based independent organization dedicated to defending press freedom worldwide says at least 8 journalists running privately owned newspapers in Ethiopia have been arrested by the government. It says the last two were arrested in the last couple of days and many others are hiding after their names appeared on the government's wanted list. As part of its violent crackdown on anyone who is critical of the government, the EPRDF has been arresting members of the independent media saying they will be charged with treason. The organization known as The Committee to Protect Journalists says it 'is outraged by these ongoing arrests'. The organization's executive director - Ann Cooper – also says in a statement that 'we call on the Ethiopian authorities to abandon any idea of bringing treason charges against journalists, and to end this blatant attempt to shut down the country's independent media'.


15 November 2005: The EPRDF regime unintentionally admitted that it detained thousands of innocent citizens who hadn't done anything illegal when it released about 8, 000 from detention today saying 'those released were not directly connected with the violence at the protests. Thousands have been randomly picked up and sent to remote and harsh concentration camps. Many say that the fact that all those people were detained without due process of law shows the extent to which the government is violating basic human rights. Witnesses in Ethiopia say 'returnees from the detention centres are claiming that they were held against their wills in appalling conditions and some were apparently tortured. There is also a report that the detainees were shaved off with shared razor blades exposing them to infectious diseases such as HIV/AIDS. Beatings and degrading treatment is reportedly rampant in the concentration camps. Detainees are also said to be given a roll of bread a day. It is estimated that over 10,000 detainees have still been held against their will and without due process of law in degrading and inhuman conditions including in Didesa, a remote military camp, were the weather is harsh and yellow fever is widespread'.


16 November 2005: The World Bank says it will cut aid to Ethiopia unless the government resolves the current tense political crisis as soon as possible. The organization's country director Ishac Diwan is quoted as saying 'we have sent very clear signals that international and World Bank assistance will be cut over time if the governance situation does not improve'. The World Bank is Ethiopia 's largest donor. It is the first time since the crisis began after the recent elections that a major donor organization gave warnings to the regime in Addis Ababa to cut aid.


16 November 2005: Amnesty International UK issues a news release appealing for the release of 24 specific detainees in Ethiopia including Hailu Shawel - president of the opposition Coalition for Unity and Democracy; Professor Mesfin Woldemariam - former chair of the Ethiopian Human Rights Council (EHRCO); Dr Yacob Hailemariam - a former UN Special Envoy and former prosecutor at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda; Ms Birtukan Mideksa - CUD vice-president and a former judge; Dr Berhanu Nega - the recently elected Mayor of Addis Ababa and university professor of economics. The news release says the detainees 'have been held for more than 12 days without being charged with any offence [and] Amnesty International considers these people to be prisoners of conscience'. It also adds that 'Amnesty International fears the detainees may be denied bail and kept in prolonged pre-trial detention in harsh conditions, leading to a lengthy trial with many adjournments, and that they may not receive a fair trial according to international standards'.


17 November 2005: A person by the name of Tania Martinet who works with one of the largest NGOs in Ethiopia sends an urgent appeal to human rights organizations and donor nations to help stop what she says 'ruthless killings of minors as young as ten years old' by the EPRDF regime. A paragraph in her letter says: 'I call upon the international community including the International Red Cross, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Save the Children and UNICEF to investigate the gross human rights violations and crimes against humanities being perpetrated by the government troops and security forces. I urge the partners of the Ethiopian government especially the European Union, the United States and the United Kingdom to take a firm stand against the authorities who have been killing, torturing, and jailing their critics. I also call upon the Prime Minister of Ethiopia, Mr. Meles Zenawi, to stop behaving ruthlessly and inhumanely against unarmed civilians. May I remind His Excellency that there is time for expiry of military power and the likelihood of facing justice.'


18 November 2005: In an interview with Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN), Ishac Diwan - the World Bank representative in Ethiopia says '[recent events in Ethiopia] are doubly painful, because of the loss of life and also in terms of the great risks to the good development outcomes we have been seeing. We have seen a deterioration of governance - rule of law, free press and human rights. This is very detrimental to development efforts'. And asked about what the World Bank thought would be measures that need to be taken, Ishac Diwan says 'from a developmental perspective what we want to see is the rule of law established, the participation by civil society, a dynamic and free political process and a free media'. He also added that 'aid will fall over time if governance does not improve, because the effectiveness of aid is reduced in environments with poor governance'.


18 November 2005: Describing what caused the terrible events that have been unfolding in Ethiopia, America 's National Public Radio – NPR – says: 'initial election results that trickled out the day after the election appeared to favor the main opposition party – the Coalition for Unity and Democracy or CUD – but the ruling party shut down the ballot counting, kicked out CUD observers and announced that it had won. Three weeks later riots broke out when officials announced that official election results would be delayed for another month. Most of the leaders of the political opposition were rounded up after this month's protests and now in prison facing treason charges; they could be executed if convicted.


28 November 2005: Three of the top opposition officials along with the former chairman of the Ethiopian Human Rights Council who have been in detention since 1 November 2005 start a hunger strike in their prison cell today to protest against their politically-motivated detention. The CUD leader - Hailu Shawel, deputy leader - Birtukan Midek, mayor-elect of Addis Ababa - Berhanu Nega and Professor Mesfin Woldemariam have initiated the hunger strike which they say will go on indefinitely.


29 November 2005: A New York based independent organization dedicated to defending press freedom worldwide says: 'Ethiopian authorities have arrested another two journalists bringing the number detained since political unrest erupted four weeks ago to at least 12.' The organization known as The Committee to Protect Journalists says 'Serkalem Fassil, publisher of the Amharic-language weeklies Menilik, Asqual and Satanaw, and her husband Iskinder Nega who is also a journalist, were being held at an undisclosed location'. It also addes that 'the ongoing crackdown on the private press in Ethiopia is an outrage [and] the government must stop its attempt to shutter the entire local press, and release all jailed journalists immediately'.


December 2005: Ethiopia 's main opposition party – the CUD – whose entire leadership is locked up in EPRDF's jail, launches a newly designed website which contains news, contacts of support groups in different parts of the world, editorial and press releases, and the party's radio broadcast. The website says the party is 'dedicated to bring Unity, Peace, and Prosperity to the Citizens of Ethiopia through the democratic process. [It] is a party that derived from the merging of All Ethiopian Unity Party (AEUP), United Ethiopian Democratic Party-Medhin (UEDP-Medhin), Kestedamena and Ethiopian Democratic League. [It] is committed to bring about the Rule of Law, and free the beleaguered people of Ethiopia from the ethno centrist dictatorial oppressive rule of EPDRF. It is the party set to honor the electoral voice of the people from the rigged election of May 15, 2005; that robbed the people of Ethiopia their Democratic voice. In the sprit of bringing change, [it] will work with democratic parties to bring an end to the mismanagement and abusive nepotistic rule of the ruling party. A change of government is needed to get the country out of the abysmal state it is in. The Ethiopian people have made their choice loud and clear by voting for the opposition party on May 15, 2005.'


4 December 2005: Briton's Channel 4 aired a television documentary titled ' Ethiopia 's agony' giving details of the continuing fierce human rights violations in Ethiopia. It conducted secret interviews with people who have been in remote military camps where citizens are being tortured and killed. An eye witness says about 45,000 people are still being detained in a remote military camp by the name of 'Dedessa. Describing this military camp the documentary says: '…outside the capital along this road to the west, and so far off-limits to the media, Dedessa is a former military base; reports from former detainees tell thousands being rounded up and dumped there.' The documentary reveals that SMS messaging systems in Ethiopia have deliberately been shut off by the government in an attempt to stop people from communicating. It also adds that a pop music by a famous Ethiopian pop star that talks about the lack of change in Ethiopia has been banned from the airwaves. The program is introduced as 'an exclusive report on the supposedly model African state, where human rights abuses have continued to grow since May's controversial elections.'


14 December 2005: The Vienna based International Press Institute (IPI) along with the global network of editors, leading journalists and media executives in over 110 countries writes a letter to the Prime Minster in Ethiopia expressing its 'dismay at the recent imprisonment of a number of Ethiopian journalists.' The letter says the government in Ethiopia arrested two more journalists in Addis Ababa in recent days in connection with articles published back in 1998 and 1999 and charged them 'for an offence unconnected to the violence in November of this year.' Referring to the recent events in Ethiopia, the letter says: 'the sad deaths of Ethiopian citizens since this time have only exacerbated an already volatile situation, and there is now a real need to bridge the gap between the government, on the one side, and other groups, including elements of the media, on the other. Rather than trying to bridge these gaps, however, the Ethiopian government seems intent on widening them through its apparent vindictive and wholly unnecessary pursuit of journalists under repressive laws that have no place in a modern and open society. In consequence, with each repressive step, the government is taking itself further away from its declared goal of introducing greater freedoms in Ethiopia .' The letter also points out that 'these actions are having an increasingly damaging effect on the standing of Ethiopia before the international community. With each imprisonment of a journalist, the Ethiopian government is undermining the international goodwill expressed towards the country since the present government first intimated a desire to introduce greater freedoms for the Ethiopian people.'


17 December 2005: The BBC reports today that 'prosecutors in Ethiopia have charged 131 jailed opposition leaders, reporters and aid workers with crimes ranging from treason to "genocide".' The report also adds that 'under Ethiopian law, some of the crimes carry the death penalty.'


22 December 2005: Action Aid - an international development agency whose aim is to fight poverty worldwide says 'its Ethiopia policy head - Daniel Bekele - and close partner Netsanet Demessie of the Organisation for Social Justice in Ethiopia (OSJE) have been formally charged with crimes against the state'. The statement given today reads: 'ActionAid has been calling for the immediate and unconditional release of the two men, arguing that they have done nothing illegal, nor been involved in any unconstitutional activities. Yet today, the court ruled that the federal prosecutor could add their names to the list of 131 defendants already charged'. And Ramesh Singh, ActionAid International Chief Executive is quoted as saying that 'Daniel and Netsanet are not criminals. They have been arrested for their civic activism, for doing their duty as anti-poverty campaigners. Their continued detention since being arrested in early November for engaging in activities that are protected by the constitution violates both Ethiopian and international law.'


22 December 2005: The Voice of America says five journalists from its Horn of Africa service in Washington have been charged with involvement in an alleged plot to overthrow the government in Ethiopia. VOA's director David Jackson is quoted as saying 'charges of treason filed against five VOA journalists by the Ethiopian government are false.' His statement also adds that the charges are 'an obvious attempt to intimidate our broadcasters.' He said the Voice of America has a worldwide reputation for the quality and reliability of its journalists, and that VOA stands by its reporters. According to VOA's report none of the five is in Ethiopian custody. The journalists were charged in absentia in an Addis Ababa.


29 December 2005: The BBC says that 'western donors are considering withholding millions of dollars of aid to Ethiopia, after a recent crackdown on the opposition and the press.' The BBC's report says: aid donors' frustration with Ethiopia 's government has grown in recent months.' It also adds that 'in November the British ambassador to Ethiopia , Bob Dewar, put out a strong statement on behalf of the European Union and the United States.' 'It called for respect for human rights, an end to mass arrests, the lifting of restrictions on the opposition and for the freeing of political detainees.' 'But a spokesman for the European Commission told the BBC the Ethiopian government had failed to reply to the statement, and therefore hundreds of millions of dollars of funding were now being reviewed.'


31 December 2005: In describing how 'democratic' the Ethiopian political system was Meles Zenawi had said in January 2005 that 'whenever the people want to hire a new Prime Minister, they do so, that's why we have elections.' Asked when he would relinquish power, he had replied: 'the beauty of democratic system is that these decisions are not made by me or any incumbent leader in any country. Those decisions are made by the people.' He said this on the BBC's TALKINGPOINT program on 23 January. Less than 12 months later today, the BBC says 'democracy takes a step backwards on the continent in 2005' and the current regime in Ethiopia is mentioned as being among those who 'have reverted to violent repression and election-rigging to cling to power.' That was how the year started with the regime misleading the people of Ethiopia and the international community on the issue of democracy, and this is how the year ends with clear consensus among Ethiopians and the international community that the regime in Ethiopia is anything but democratic.


5 January 2006: The Reuters News Agency reports that a United States diplomat in Addis Ababa has delivered a rare criticism of the regime's behavior. The agency quotes Vicki Huddleston of the American Embassy in Addis Ababa as saying 'we are very concerned about the indictment against the VOA personnel, who are US government personnel, If the [Ethiopian] government has an issue with VOA, it needs to be taken up directly with the US government and the embassy - not in a court of law.' According to the Voice of America, 5 of its journalists have been charged in absentia because they are based in Washington. The journalists are Negussie Mengesha, Addisu Abebe, Tizita Belachew, Adanech Fessehaye and Solomon Kifle. The Reuters' report also says that Vicki Huddleston 'announced the US would no longer sell US "Humvee" military vehicles to Ethiopia , originally intended to boost Ethiopia 's antiterrorism efforts along the country's border with Somalia. The vehicles have been used to patrol neighborhoods in Addis Ababa.'


6 January 2006: The United States government says it 'remains gravely concerned by actions of the Government of Ethiopia in the cases of opposition, civil society, and media leaders, including five staff members of the Voice of America, charged with capital offenses.' State Department spokesman Sean McCormack issued the statement which also details: 'in a judicial hearing on January 5, the Ethiopian courts denied bail to, and refused to hear a statement by, the 131 individuals who had been charged on December 21. Thousands more Ethiopians arrested since early November remain detained without charge.' The statement concludes by saying 'the United States calls on the Ethiopian Government to ensure a fair, transparent and speedy trial for those charged, and to charge or release promptly those who remain detained without charge. Those detained have the right to and should be granted unimpeded access to legal counsel and to their families.'


12 January 2006: A South African News Group says Ethiopian high-school students 'clashed with the police at Ayer Tena High School while staging protests in Menen, Tikur Anbessa, Ayer Tena, Addis Ketema and other schools in Addis Ababa.' The report details that 'the fighting started when students staged a peaceful protest demanding the release of detained students and political prisoners. The police entered the school compound and attacked the students. Several parents who tried to intervene to protect their children were also savagely beaten up by police.'


13 January 2006: In a report titled: Ethiopia: Hidden Crackdown in Rural Areas, Human Rights Watch says 'the Ethiopian government is using intimidation, arbitrary detentions and excessive force in rural areas of Ethiopia to suppress post-election protests and all potential dissent.' It says it came to this conclusion after a research trip to Addis Ababa and the different regions of Ethiopia. The organization's director Peter Takirambudde is quoted as saying 'the Ethiopian government is violently suppressing any form of protest and punishing suspected opposition supporters, [and] donor governments should insist on an independent, credible investigation into abuses by federal police and local officials in rural as well as urban areas.' Mr. Takirambudde is also quoted as saying 'the government is deepening its crackdown in Ethiopia's rural areas, far from the eyes and ears of international observers [and] people are being terrorized by federal police working hand-in-glove with local officials and militias.'


16 January 2006: The EPRDF regime unintentionally admitted that it detained tens of thousands of innocent citizens who hadn't done anything illegal when it released about 11, 200 from detention today after more than 2 months of harsh treatment and torture. According to the Spanish eitb24 reports, the regime in Ethiopia also 'released without charge 2,252 people' on 14 January 2006 after illegally detaining them for more than 2 months in remote dentition camps. The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs also says that the EPRDF regime released on 6 January 2006 '734 prisoners detained after fighting erupted in the capital, Addis Ababa'. Thousands have been randomly picked up and sent to remote and harsh concentration camps throughout Ethiopia. Many say that the fact that all those innocent citizens were detained without due process of law shows the extent to which the government is violating basic human rights. Witnesses in Ethiopia say returnees from the detention centers are claiming that they were held against their wills in appalling conditions and some were apparently tortured. Media reports say 'the exact number of those still held by Ethiopian authorities remains unclear.'


18 January 2006: The American international news channel – CNN – reports: ' Britain cut all of its aid to Ethiopia 's government on Wednesday and plans to redirect the 73 million euro ($88 million U.S. ) to humanitarian agencies working in the Horn of Africa nation.' On announcing this measure to Meles Zenawi, Britain's international development secretary - Hillary Benn – is quoted as saying 'the U.K. is seriously concerned about governance, human rights and the detention of and serious charges faced by opposition, media and members of civil society.' His statement also adds that 'because of our concerns over the political situation I have told the (Ethiopian prime minister) that we cannot provide direct budget support under the current circumstances.' CNN's report says 'in June, Britain froze 29.23 million euro ($35.3 million) in direct budget support to the Ethiopian government, but Wednesday's announcement officially cut off that amount, plus 43.87 million euro ($52.95 million U.S.) in additional aid that was still in place; [and] other Western donors have said they are considering redirecting $375 million U.S. in budget support for the government to other areas because of the political crisis in the country.'


18 January 2006: Briton's Secretary of State for International Development - Hilary Benn – who visited Ethiopia on 18 January 2006, says 'because of our concerns over the political situation I have told the Prime Minister that we can not provide direct budget support under current circumstances. However, the UK is fully committed to supporting the people of Ethiopia in their fight against poverty so we are looking with other donors at how we can provide support to the poorest in other ways.' '…Concerns have been raised with me about the ongoing clashes involving students and security forces in schools and colleges across the country, and there should be an independent investigation into the alleged recent human rights violations in Oromiya.' This news report is published on Briton's Department for International Development website.


18 January 2006: Human Rights Watch details various human rights violations all over Ethiopia committed by the EPRDF regime in its comprehensive annual report titled: World report 2006. Below are some excerpts from the damning report.

"The aftermath of Ethiopia 's landmark May 2005 parliamentary elections has laid bare the deeply entrenched patterns of political repression, human rights abuse and impunity that characterize the day-to-day reality of governance in much of the country. This dispiriting reality has come as a shock to many international observers who had viewed the electoral process with a great deal of optimism."

"The aftermath of the May elections has been marred by seemingly intractable controversy and displays of government brutality that threaten to reverse the gains yielded by the electoral process."

"Government officials and security forces in much of Ethiopia make routine use of various forms of human rights abuse to deter and punish dissent. For more than a decade, authorities in the country's vast Oromia region have used exaggerated concerns about armed insurgency and "terrorism" to justify the torture, imprisonment and sustained harassment of their critics and even ordinary citizens."

"Student protests in 2004 at Addis Ababa University and in secondary schools throughout Oromia led to the arrest of hundreds of students, many of whom were mistreated while in custody. Ever since the protests and throughout 2005, regional officials in Oromia have gone to oppressive lengths to monitor and control the speech and conduct of students and teachers alike."

'In the months prior to the May 2005 elections, regional officials in Oromia created new quasi-governmental structures used to subject the rural population to intense levels of surveillance and to impose restrictions on farmers' freedoms of movement, association and speech.'

'The Ethiopian government has taken no meaningful action to address widespread atrocities committed by Ethiopian military forces in the remote southwestern region of Gambella. Federal authorities have refused even to investigate human rights abuses so severe that they may rise to the level of crimes against humanity and continue to allow the authors of those crimes the enjoyment of near-total impunity.'

'Ethiopia is considered an essential partner of the United States in its "war on terrorism," and Washington has generally been unwilling to apply meaningful pressure on the Ethiopian government over its human rights record.'

'Other Western donors have also been reluctant to criticize Ethiopia 's human rights record and have in many respects actually embraced the Ethiopian government as something of a model for Africa . UK Prime Minister Tony Blair invited Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi to play a leading role on Blair's Commission for Africa.'

'There is no indication that donors' unusually robust criticism following the post-election crackdown in Addis Ababa will translate into a sustained willingness to be more vocal in demanding that the federal government respect human rights.'


20 January 2006: According to the BBC, at least one person is killed and 22 wounded by EPRDF police in Addis Ababa when live bullets were used to disperse groups of people who were singing and chanting religious songs in the streets leading up to St. Michael's Church as part of the annual Epiphany celebrations. CNN's reports say the number of wounded is at least 33. A 16 year old victim of the brutality of the police is quoted as sating by the BBC that 'I don't really know what was happening to me. I was shot by the police twice, one on my stomach and one on my throat.' Briton's Guardian Online also reports that 'the wounded, most of them with bullet injuries, included three men who were shot in the abdomen, chest and pelvis respectively. The men were in critical condition and undergoing emergency surgery at the Menelik hospital in Addis Ababa. Among the others wounded, two were women and several had been beaten with police truncheons.'


22 January 2006: The Reuters News Agency reports that a British Journalist working in Addis Ababa had been ordered to leave Ethiopia within 24 hours and he accordingly left for Kenya on Sunday – 22 January. Anthony Mitchell is employed by the Associated Press (AP) news agency, and the agency says in a statement that '"Mitchell complied with a government order to leave the country today, [and] we hope he will be allowed to return to Addis Ababa soon so that he can be with his family and return to his duties.' The agency's statement also adds: 'the AP stands behind Mitchell, who is an aggressive and fair journalist, and has worked in Ethiopia for AP for more than five years.' The Reuters News Agency says ' Ethiopia 's Foreign Ministry summoned Mitchell on Saturday and expelled him, accusing him of "disseminating information tarnishing the image of the country despite repeated advice not to do so".'


23 January 2006: A foreign journalist who works in Ethiopia publishes his comments about the expulsion on 22 January of an AP journalist by the EPRDF regime. Andrew Heavens' comments published on his weblog about Ethiopia say: 'The suddenness of the order was one of the most unsettling things about it all. Imagine being called into a government office at 6.30 one evening and being given 24 hours to sleep, pack and say goodbye both to your young family and to more than three years of your life. Another disturbing thing will be the long term implications of this decision. When a country kicks out a good journalist, the only real loser – in terms of reputation and coverage – is the country that did the kicking.'


27 January 2006: The president of the Canadian Labour Congress - Kenneth V. Georgetti – sends a letter to the regime in Ethiopia saying: 'on behalf of the Canadian Labour Congress, representing 3 million working women and men throughout Canada, I call on you to uphold the human rights of the many teachers, journalists and trade unionists detained by your government, since November 2005. The whereabouts of some of them are unknown and many have still not been charged nor released.' Reminding the regime of the unrelenting crackdown on Ethiopian students, the letter says: 'in Addis Ababa , the Federal police and other security forces broke into school compounds and indiscriminately beat and injured a large number of students and teachers. It is reported that many school girls were severely injured.' In its conclusion, the letter states: 'the Canadian Labour Congress strongly condemns press freedom violations and the repeated attacks on the integrity and human rights of the Ethiopian Teachers Association leaders and rank and file members.' And Mr. Georgetti concluded the letter by saying: 'I urge your government to cease this policy of repression of trade union rights, to guarantee the physical integrity and lives of all trade union leaders and activists, and to take action against those police and civilians who have breached the laws protecting trade union rights.'


30 January 2006: The human rights watchdog - Amnesty International – says 'several thousand school and college students from the Oromo ethnic group who have been detained in a series of anti-government demonstrations in different parts of the Oromia Region, in the capital, Addis Ababa, and in other towns are at risk of torture or ill-treatment.' In its latest report titled: 'Ethiopia: Detention without charge/ fear of torture or ill-treatment', Amnesty also says: 'two Oromo detainees arrested in 2004, Alemayehu Garba (an Addis Ababa University student who is disabled and Morkota Edosa, were reportedly shot dead by police or prison officers in Kaliti prison in Addis Ababa on 9 December.'


8 February 2006: An international organization dedicated to defending journalists and other media contributors and professionals around the world – Reporters Without Borders – reveals that the regime in Ethiopia is illegally holding a pregnant online journalist - Frezer Negash - for weeks without charging her with any crime. The organization condemns the illegal detention by saying '…no civilized state can tolerate such detention without trial, and this denial of justice is even more deplorable because she is three months pregnant.' According to this report journalist Frezer Negash has been working for the US based news website Ethiopian Review. The report also adds that 'this new arrest once again shows that the Ethiopian authorities cannot stand their political opponents expressing their views in the media or on the Internet, [and] as no official charge has been brought against Negash, we consider her detention to be arbitrary.'


12 February 2006: The British Prime Minster – Tony Blair – meets with Meles Zenawi at a summit in South Africa. Meles Zenawi was once hailed by Tony Blair as a progressive democratic leader and was one of the members of the British Prime Minister's Commission for Africa. With regard to the political turmoil of the past several months in Ethiopia, the BBC has quoted Mr. Blair today as saying 'the government won the election, there was then a reaction to it, there was then, perhaps, if I can say this without being too undiplomatic, an over reaction to that, which often happens.' Despite the massacre of hundreds of citizens in the streets of Addis Ababa and other towns, mass arrests, abuses of human rights and civil liberties, the arbitrary detention of thousands of Ethiopians including aid workers and journalists, as well as the deportation of a British journalist from Ethiopia, the British Prime Minster falls short of meaningful criticism and rather said he was optimistic about governance in Africa. The BBC also quotes Meles Zenawi's as saying today that "if there had been flaws, Ethiopia would learn from its mistakes and move on."


17 February 2006: A New York based independent organization dedicated to defending press freedom worldwide says: Ethiopian authorities have arrested 'two Ethiopian journalists for failing to pay hefty fines imposed in court cases stemming from their work.' The two journalists are Elias Gudissa - editor-in-chief of the Amharic-language weekly Tikusat – and Iyob Demeke - former editor-in-chief of the defunct Amharic-language weekly Tarik - which was closed down several years ago. CPJ says "fourteen more are in jail facing charges of treason and genocide."' The organization's Executive Director - Ann Cooper – is reported to have said that "we are disturbed at Ethiopia's policy of jailing journalists when they are unable to pay fines, especially since the government has agreed to reform the country's draconian press law, [and] we call on Ethiopian authorities to place a moratorium on prosecutions under the 1992 press law until the law is reformed in line with international standards of press freedom."


22 February 2006: Amnesty International USA issues a press release regarding the human rights situation in Ethiopia saying that all the political prisoners facing serious charges in Ethiopia 'are prisoners of conscience, imprisoned solely on account of their non-violent opinions and activities [and] it is unacceptable that they are now facing serious criminal charges that could lead to death sentences and possible execution.' The press release titled: 'Ethiopia: Prisoners of conscience prepare to face trial' is released a day before the appearance in court of opposition leaders, human rights defenders and journalists who are facing charges that include treason, violent conspiracy and "genocide". Regarding the court process run by the EPRDF government, Amnesty's press release says: 'we fear the defendants may not be tried in accordance with internationally-recognized standards of fair trial before impartial and independent judges; [and] the grounds advanced by the prosecution for the charge of 'genocide' do not even remotely match internationally-recognized definitions of genocide -- or the definition set out in the Ethiopian Criminal Code. This absurd charge should be withdrawn immediately.' The press release concludes by saying: "we demand their immediate and unconditional release and a halt to this attempt by the Ethiopian government to criminalize freedom of expression and prevent legitimate political and human rights activity."


23 February 2006: The BBC reports that key treason trial against opposition officials, journalists and civil rights activists who have been detained in the EPRDF's crackdown on dissent is underway in Addis Ababa. It says in their appearance in court, "none of the accused answered questions, saying the trial was political. Some wore black t-shirts and put their hands over their mouths when asked to plead." According to the BBC, "thirty-five of the accused are abroad and are being tried in absentia'. It reports Bertukan Medeksa – deputy leader of the opposition to have said 'the court was controlled by Mr Meles, who had already found them guilty." BBC's news report also adds 'some diplomats told the BBC they feared that the trial could drag on for a long time, [pointing out] that the trial of those accused of mass murder under the former regime of Mengistu Haile Mariam is still underway 15 years after it began.


23 February 2006: A New York based independent organization dedicated to defending press freedom worldwide says: a British reporter who recently recounted alleged human rights abuses in Ethiopia was denied press accreditation to work in Ethiopia and he left the country the same day after Ethiopian authorities made it clear he was unwelcome. The report says Inigo Gilmore - whose report appeared in the London weekly TheObserver - wrote news reports for the independent British television station Channel Four which included an account from one man who said he endured 19 days of beatings while being held in a crowded, unsafe detention camp. Ann Cooper - executive director of the Committee to Protect Journalists in New York – is quoted as saying "here was a reporter seeking to cover the crisis in Ethiopia thoroughly and fairly—and the government's response was to thwart his efforts so that the alarming events in Ethiopia can stay hidden from the rest of world [and] this is all the more worrying in the context of the current crackdown on local journalists, at least 17 of whom are in jail for their work."


8 March 2006: The United States Department of State releases its 2005 Human Rights Report on Ethiopia. The 16,129 words report on the human rights practices in Ethiopia says: "after the May elections, serious human rights abuses occurred, when the opposition parties refused to accept the announced results, and in November after the Coalition for Unity and Democracy (CUD) called for civil disobedience, which resulted in widespread riots and excessive use of force by the police and military." The report adds that "in the period following the elections, authorities arbitrarily detained, beat, and killed opposition members, ethnic minorities, NGO workers, and members of the press. Authorities also imposed additional restrictions on civil liberties, including freedom of the press and freedom of assembly."


14 March 2006: The European Union Election Observation Mission to Ethiopia releases its final report on the election process in Ethiopia. The report is largely seen as the EU's verdict on how democratic the recent election process in Ethiopia was. It said: "While the pre-election period saw a number of positive developments and voting on 15 May was conducted in a peaceful and largely orderly manner, the counting and aggregation processes were marred by irregular practices, confusion and a lack of transparency. Subsequent complaints and appeals mechanisms did not provide an effective remedy. The human rights situation rapidly deteriorated in the post-election day period when dozens of citizens were killed by the police and thousands were arrested. Overall, therefore, the elections fell short of international principles for genuine democratic elections."


16 March 2006: Media reports say the EPRDF regime released 395 people from jail after locking them up for months admitting that they had done nothing illegal. Thousands of citizens have been arbitrarily and illegally rounded-up and sent to remote detention centers since June 2005 without being charged; and the regime has done so with impunity. Reports say the latest releases bring to 11,600 the number of people freed so far. The exact number of political prisoners in Ethiopia is not known.


22 March 2006: Voice of America reports that "an Ethiopian court has dropped charges of treason and genocide against 18 people, including five journalists for the Voice of America.' VOA's report added that 'the five VOA journalists: Negussie Mengesha, Addisu Abebe, Tizita Belachew, Adanech Fessehaye and Solomon Kifle, work in Washington and were never in Ethiopian custody.' VOA Director David Jackson was earlier reported as saying the charges against VOA's jornalists 'were designed to intimidate VOA broadcasters."


3 April 2006: The Reuters News Agency reports that police in Ethiopia have arrested a fellow officer for the murder of four teenagers in the north of the country in February, following allegations by Human Rights Watch that the killings in the town of Gondar were extrajudicial executions. Reuters' report says "according to HRW, the police officer had ordered the youths, who were outside a friend's house, to walk toward a nearby river and kneel down. He then shot them all in the head." Spokesman for the EPRDF police - who confirmed the killings - is reported to have said "these deaths have no relationship with any governmental issue, [and] they are not related to the elections. It is a personal affair."


25 April 2006: In a country where almost one hundred and possibly more citizens have been gunned down in broad daylight including women and children, the regime doesn't think that "excessive force" has been used. And today the EPRDF regime appoints a commission to determine 'whether security forces used excessive force' during the massacre in Addis Ababa in May and November 2005.

When asked by the BBC on its Hardtalk program on 4 July 2005 about when an investigation as to what took place would commence, Meles Zenawi had said: "We take out time, we study our case and we make the decisions when we are ready."


26 April 2006: Nineteen diplomats and representatives of four multilateral organizations release a joint statement in Addis Ababa saying "tolerance of dissenting views is a hallmark of democracy [and] we continue to advocate for the release of imprisoned CUD leaders and representatives of the media and civil society."

The ambassador's statement also says: "all elected leaders should be given a chance to take part in the political reconciliation process." This group of ambassadors and multilateral organizations comprises of Austria , Britain , Canada , the Czech Republic , Denmark , Finland , France , Germany , Ireland , Israel , Japan , the Netherlands , Turkey , Norway , Slovakia , Spain , Sweden , Switzerland , the United States , the African Development Bank, the European Commission, the United Nations Development Programme and the World Bank.


26 April 2006: The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights - Louise Arbour – says "the human rights situation in Ethiopia at present is under a lot of strain [and] I was particularly struck and distressed to see in the women's quarter of the prison ... children from infants to five-year-olds, whose mothers are incarcerated, running around in prison".

The Commissioner was speaking at a press conference after a three-day visit to Ethiopia. She visited the prison where leaders of the opposition party are being held and described it as 'very rudimentary where the general living conditions are very harsh.' She is also quoted by the BBC as saying "it is worrying that at best we are in [a] state of stagnation, especially regarding political and civil rights which are in decline after months and years of hope".


30 April 2006: A new website named "Free Our Leaders" is launched which lists photographs and descriptions of jailed opposition party leaders. The website says it is put together by an "Ethiopian based advocacy group whose main objective is to organize and lead the campaign for the immediate and unconditional freedom of political prisoners who were jailed for their leadership and lawful engagement in the May 2005 election." It also adds that "in collaboration with other groups, [it] will organize Civil Disobedience in Ethiopia to force the government to release Political Prisoners."


2 May 2006: Amnesty International issues a press release titled: ' Ethiopia : Prisoners of conscience on trial for treason'. The press release calls on the Ethiopian regime to release immediately and unconditionally several opposition Members of Parliament-elect, human rights defenders and journalists whose treason trial begins today, saying that they are 'prisoners of conscience who have not used or advocated violence.' Amnesty international says the charges against opposition parties, human rights defenders and journalists are 'absurd' and they 'should be free to carry out their legitimate activities without fear of arbitrary detention, lengthy and possibly unfair trials on political charges, or other human rights violations.' Amnesty also adds: 'this very worrying trial has major implications for human rights, media freedom and democratization in Ethiopia [and] it will be a crucial test of the independence and impartiality of the Ethiopian judiciary.'


3 May 2006: The United States Department of State releases a press statement in Washington saying 'we reiterate the need for the release of political detainees and the guarantee of due process for those against whom charges remain.' Delivered by States Department Spokesman - Sean McCormack – the statement also says ' the United States is concerned by the increasing harassment and intimidation of opposition politicians and their supporters in Ethiopia.'


5 May 2006: The Jamaica Observer reports that a Rastafarian group known as the Imperial Ethiopian World Federation staged a peaceful demonstration in front of the United Nations office in Kingston to ' remind the UN of its obligations as the custodian of international morality, and to urge it to liberate Ethiopia from the Marxist oriented pseudo-democracy of Meles Zenawi and restore the constitutional monarchy of Emperor Haile Selassie I.' According to the report a letter sent to the UN in Kingston reads: 'we're here calling for a free Ethiopia and appealing to the United Nations and its members, which since 1974 have turned a blind eye to the atrocities that have been visited upon Ethiopia from Mengistu to Zenawi… we are calling on the United Nations and its members that support the illegal government of Zenawi to stop from doing so. And we are not stopping until Ethiopia is freed.'


9 May 2006: Meles Zenawi appoints someone by the name of Berhanu Deresa as Mayor of Addis Ababa City. The elected Mayer of Addis Ababa – Dr. Brehanu Nega – is in prison facing treason charges along with other high-ranking leaders of the main opposition party which Amnesty International dubbed as 'prisoners of conscience who have not used or advocated violence.'


15 May 2006: In an interview with The Times newspaper in Britain , Meles Zenawi accuses British PM – Tony Blair – 'of behaving like an old colonial master in cutting off aid in response to the killing by government troops of scores of opposition protesters last year.' The Times says Meles Zenawi's 'party was returned to power but the vote was described as seriously flawed by foreign observers'. On the massacres that took place in June and November in Addis Ababa , Meles Zenawi is quoted as saying 'I do not think that this was an over-reaction. When these riots happened in June we were not prepared in terms of crowd control. Blair told me what he thought, but he did not say to me that I had let him down'. And on the opposition, he is quoted to have said: 'the opposition wanted an Orange Revolution, but they failed miserably. They miscalculated. Ethiopia is not a spineless, corrupt, ex-Soviet rump. Ethiopia is not the Ukraine'. The title of the interview report reads: 'Rejected ally says Britain cut off aid like an old colonial master'.


15 May 2006: Marking the one year anniversary of the May 2005 elections, The European Union Chief Election Observer – Ana Gomes – sends a video message to the people of Ethiopia. The following are excerpts from the video message.

'On the occasion of the 1 st anniversary of the May 15 elections, I want to send you a message of solidarity, sympathy and hope; a message to all those Ethiopian men and women, young and old, prominent leaders and unanimous citizens, who have fallen and continue to fall victim to extrajudicial killings, arbitrary arrests, harassment and intimidation in the aftermath of the May elections and at the hands of the current Ethiopian government.'

'Like most Ethiopians in the Diaspora, I am now not allowed to set foot in Ethiopia for saying the truth and fulfilling my duty as Chief observer.'

'In the May elections one year ago, the voice of the Ethiopian people was loud and clear; they wanted change. But the current rulers of the country did not care to listen and that is why the democratic will of the people of Ethiopia remains unfulfilled. The Ethiopian people have been – therefore – betrayed by those who continue to govern in their name without their proper mandate.'

'Dear friends, in your just struggle for democracy, justice and freedom, it is important that you resist peacefully and legally the violence and the lawlessness of the current rulers. Also, you need to avoid ethnic hatred, mistrust and fear amongst you. You know, this is exactly what the current rules will want and will foster among you to divide you and to weaken opposition to their rule.'

'At the present time, your struggle is gaining international support. We in the European Parliament – for example – have voted a series of resolutions and forwarded recommendations to solve the current political crisis in Ethiopia to European governments and elsewhere. But much more needs to be done to unmask the true face of the current rulers of Ethiopia . On my part, I promise to do all I can together with democrats and peace loving people all over the world to see to it that the Ethiopian people will not be once again let down by the international community.' 'We believe that all political leaders, members of the independent press, human rights groups and other civic society organizations along with the thousands of students and other innocent citizens of Ethiopia who are arbitrarily held by the government of Prime Minster Melse Zenawi must be released without delay and without pre-conditions. We believe that the Ethiopian government must be accountable for human rights. To that end, we repeat our parliament's call for the setting up of an international independent commission of inquiry to investigate the massive human rights violations that occurred during the past year, and to bring to justice all those responsible for those atrocities.'

'Dear friends, I hope you stay united and do your share. We will be on your side in the coming weeks and months. I assure you that I will do whatever is possible so that the struggle for justice by the courageous people of Ethiopia will stay on the agenda of the international community.' 'Reaching democratic governance in Ethiopia will primarily be the responsibility of the Ethiopians. If you keep this in mind, if you stick to a strategy of unity in the struggle, I am sure that we will meet in Addis Ababa to celebrate democracy in Ethiopia in the near future.'


16 May 2006: Speaking about the EPRDF regime in Ethiopia , the former US assistant secretary of state for Africa - Herman Cohen – says 'I think these are specifically political trials of the people in power in Ethiopia who are minority of the people and they feel deeply threatened. And when they are threatened and backed into a corner, their only option is repression. It's only the actions of a totalitarian state.' He is also quoted as saying 'the international community should understand that economic development in Ethiopia will be impossible as long as you have this political stalemate and repressive form of governance. There is no reason to continue economic development assistance until this is corrected. Ethiopia should remain an object of humanitarian assistance until there is internal change.'


23 May 2006: Reporters Without Borders - an international organization dedicated to defending journalists and other media contributors and professionals around the world - says it 'has called on Ethiopia's information and culture minister to explain why several websites critical of the government have been inaccessible in the country since 17 May 2006. In a letter sent to the information ministry in Ethiopia, Reporters Without Borders says ' preventing debate and controlling news and information circulating online will only aggravate an already very tense political climate'.


24 May 2006: The Committee to Protect Journalists which is a New York based independent organization dedicated to defending press freedom worldwide says it is concerned by reports that several blogs have been blocked by Ethiopian authorities. Ann Cooper - the executive director of CPJ – is reported to have said that 'we are deeply troubled by reports that Ethiopian authorities may be censoring the Internet, one of the few remaining avenues for free expression in the country [and] the people of Ethiopia have a right to access news and information on the Internet including critical web sites'.


18 October 2006: A judge appointed by the EPRDF regime 'to determine whether excessive force was used' during the regime's crackdown that followed the flawed elections says what happened constitutes a 'massacre' as 193 civilians were shot, beaten and strangled to death in the June and November protests. Media reports say the judge - Wolde-Michael Meshesha – has since fled the country. The judge is also reported to have said that the government made attempts to suppress the results of the probe which haven't yet made public in Ethiopia. Following the findings of the inquiry, the European Union's chief election observer at last year's elections in Ethiopia - Ana Gomes – is reported to have 'accused western leaders of turning a blind eye, and preferring not to take action against Ethiopia'.


11 June 2007: An EPRDF court in Addis Ababa says a total of 38 CUD leaders and members were guilty of 'armed rebellion and outrage against the constitution'. The BBC says 'sentencing is next month and they could face the death penalty'.


09 July 2007: The BBC reports that an Ethiopian prosecutor by the name of 'Abraham Tetemke has demanded the death penalty for a group of 38 opposition leaders found guilty of links to violent election protests'. The report also said: ' Among them are several of the capital's elected MPs and city councillors, including Berhanu Negga, mayor-elect of Addis Ababa'. The BBC's Elizabeth Blunt in Addis Ababa commented in her article entitled: 'Ethiopia's democracy on trial' that 'a significant part of Addis Ababa's intelligentsia has spent the past 18 months in jail, facing a hair-raising selection of charges which originally included genocide and treason.' And on the charges brought against the opposition leaders, Elizabeth Blunt added that ' In truth, these defendants always seemed like improbable candidates for armed insurrection - elderly professors in tweed or corduroy jackets, earnest young lawyers, a middle aged matron in a suit'.


16 July 2007: An EPRDF court in Addis Ababa hands down life sentences to all of the main opposition leaders. According to the BBC, 30 of the entire leadership of the CUD are sentenced to life in jail, 6 are given 15 – 18 years in jail, 2 journalists are given 1 – 3 years in jail and 5 more are sentenced to life in jail in absentia. As a reaction to the sentencing of the CUD leaders and journalists, the BBC has quoted Ana Gomes - the European Union Chief Election Observer in Ethiopia during the 2005 elections – as saying '[Their] only crime was to express their opinions freely in elections, which were supposed to be democratic'.


20 July 2007: Leaders of Ethiopia's main opposition party – the CUD - are freed from EPRDF's notorious jail following intense international pressure. The BBC reports that 'thirty Ethiopian opposition leaders have been freed from prison just days after being given life sentences over election protests.'


30 December 2008: 17 months after she was released among other leaders of the then opposition party – the CUD - Birtukan Medeksa is arrested again "to serve a life sentence". A report by the BBC says: "After the opposition leaders were pardoned and released last year, she emerged as the leader of a new coalition, the Union for Democracy and Justice (UDJ), painstakingly stitched together from various opposition groupings to contest elections in 2010."


23 May 2010: The Ethiopian regime, led by the EPRDF party, holds its second sham elections without any opposition.


21 June 2010: The ruling EPRDF party declares that it has won 99.6 percent of parliamentary seats.


06 October 2010: Birtukan Medeksa is released from prison. According to the regime she submitted a pardon plea in October 2010 with the justice ministry quoted a statement in which she expressed regret for denying her 2007 pardon.